Where will the new jobs come from?

My questions about the current economic crisis are not rhetorical. That is, I don’t ask where the new jobs come from because I think that the answer is obvious, e.g. there won’t be any more new jobs, or there are always more new jobs. I ask because I don’t know the answer, and I think the answer will tell us a lot about what life will be like in this country in the years to come.

A commenter on Mike Shedlock’s weblog considers the same question below. I think his observations are roughly accurate, and he raises some questions I haven’t yet heard very often. They all boil down to one larger, non-rhetorical question: as jobs disappear along with the possibility of retiring, will there be enough work left for us to do in order to earn our livings?

What scares me is that I just can’t see any long term fix to the employment problem. We have been a society that bought things we didn’t need and bought things we didn’t make with money we didn’t have. 

The median household income in the US is just under $50,000 a year, but that household is living on between $60 and $70,000 a year. Not only will that median income fall, but now that Americans are locked out of their HELOCs, closed out of their credit cards and barred from their bank loans, the US practice of living beyond one’s means is finished, forever. The US Government is living far beyond its means. States and municipalities are living far beyond their means, and when pensions fall short, baby boomers will will be crippled by the new austerity. My friends are saying that if their pensions fail, they will just have to keep working. All I can think of when they tell me that, is that there will be no jobs at which they can still work. If we don’t think this situation can get much worse, then we are a country in denial. 

We have lost jobs to outsourcing, but now, even those outsourced jobs are disappearing in their new countries. We have lost many jobs to technology, and those jobs are never coming back. Although I haven’t seen it written, with demographics as they are, we may have a ten year supply of houses. Here in southern North Carolina, we have at least twenty years of residential housing infrastructure. With the consumer becoming an endangered species, in the future we may have more mall destruction than mall creation. Future construction jobs, even those created in green energy and in infrastructure, will no longer bail this debtor nation out. 

A lot of us are saying that we will learn to live within our means, but when we say that, we refuse to recognize that our means are shrinking. I expect that over the next few years, we will be losing almost as many public sector jobs as private sector jobs. How may pencil pushers and middlemen can one country employ? If manufacturing is not brought back to America, then America, a country strangled by insurmountable debt, is doomed for my lifetime and for the lifetimes of my children


4 thoughts on “Where will the new jobs come from?

  1. Robert,

    That sounds like an interesting read. Do you have a link?

    Mike (Mish) Shedlock writes the weblog Global Economic Trend Analysis. What I quoted was a comment from a fellow who calls himself Black Swan. I can’t point you to the exact comment, because yesterday the comment system Mish uses apparently blew up, taking lots of comments with it, one of them being Black Swan’s comment.

  2. Black Swan has just followed up with some anecdotal evidence that is worth reading:

    An bubba buddy of mine, who escaped small town life in a NC river town, to become one of Wachovia’s top major leasing specialists, with a salary over $400,000, has been out of work for seven months now. He is back in his hometown, where he was once lionized, and has been turned down for an entry level position with Lowe’s. 

    A college friend of mine (who flunked out of the same WV college as did I, but went on to get his Masters degree from a top ten university), who lives and works in a small town outside of the NC research triangle, didn’t listen to my doom and gloom views on the stockmarket. He told me that his “guy” had always made him a lot of money. Not only has he recently lost $400,000 in his fully invested retirement account, but two weeks ago, his wife was let go from her $130,000, small bank supervisory position, along with the nine people who worked under her. The bank said it was in such bad shape, that it couldn’t offer any of them any severence pay. She had been with the bank for 13 years.

    Another bubba buddy of mine was offered an attractive severance package, along with a large number of his co-workers, if he would agree to voluntarily resign from his $65,000 drug manufacturing job before January 1st. He had decided to do that, and also decided to declare bankruptcy so he would not have to pay off his credit cards or stay in his underwater-in-debt house. He spent last weekend partying here in Wilmington, and talking to a BK attorney. When he got back to his job in another town, two hours away, they did a random drug test on him and found THC. He has lost his job, and will not be getting the big severance package.

    Economic death is all around me.

  3. Another commenter on Mish’s weblog says this:

    I live near Seattle. The major Sunday paper three years ago might have had 40-50 pages of help wanted ads. Even a month ago it was still 10-15 pages. Yesterday, it was barely 3 pages and 2 pages were large employment agencies/job fair-type ads. Only 1 page was individual companies posting help wanted ads.

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